Planning Events

Some may know, others new to them I volunteer my time with Ad Fed, Advertising Federation of Minnesota, where I currently serve as President of the Ad2 sub-group. Being involved with the organization since 2006.

I had never heard of advertising networking group before until, was at a bar randomly in the cities during my summer internship and saw people with nametags eating pizza and talking about marketing trends. Starting in the membership committee because the board member was friendly then quickly jumping to planning the events, because “I was one of the firsts at the event and seemed to always mingle and help with the food or drinks”, little did I know 2,000 + volunteering hours later I would be where I am today.

Seems strange to think but someone has to plan that kind of stuff between the speakers, locations the color of your name tag, the mood-lighting and lead the group with commentary and be able to talk every person in the room. That is how I planned and executed the events, learned many things along the way such as:

  • If your going to have a wine tasting make sure the bar has wine glasses
  • Having petty cash to give back to guests if an entry fee
  • – Advertising agencies will talk about themselves and what they do if you don’t give them a topic
  • – Some of the board like to drink
  • – If there is beer everyone will cheer
  • – NO one will notice there isn’t cocktail napkins, only you will
  • – When in doubt make them laugh
  • – Never plan an event same day as five other local events
  • – A volunteer isn’t part of your committee until they show up for a meeting
  • – Always send a thank you to who hosts, otherwise it gets awkward next encounter

Finding venues I always tried to grab a place or two a year no one had been to or had great buzz about because that always brought up a different crowd. Then liked to plan on hosting at a top well-known agency then a smaller up and comer.

Budgets can be your best friend or worst enemy.

The first year had a $300 budget, then the second year $400 and now it currently is at $600.

  • ALWAYS make sure when negotiating with a restaurant, bar or catering company that you get the estimate WITH gratitudity included. That can quickly add a few hundred unexpected dollars and you will blow through your budget fast.
My top events over the years I planned:
  • tequila tasting at the BradStreet Crafthouse at the Graves 601 :: this event people where unsure of me because in the past it was wine. Well try to find a wine vendor in January for about 100 people back in 2009. Nope. Had met a tequila vendor who was pumped to show off his stuff, mixed with having the Crafthouse make 3 special drinks to showcase their skills, mini-burgers and tiny pastries all butler passed made for an outstanding FREE tasting event all on a $600 budget.
  • Carmichael Lynch agency hosting event:: Give them a topic they are passionate about. Everyone knows their name… this agency tour event was focused on being green. The space spoke for themselves, had over 75 walk-ins including a 20-person group from Winona State and the presentation was simple and everyone could see. The food I always stay away from pizza, but it was Pizza Luca Appetizers that worked out great.
  • Modern Climate:: Two words, Potato Bar. Modern Climate has always been an ideal of mine going back to my BSU days, and the 3 guys really didn’t get why I wanted to come to them for an event. Canned Pabst Blue Ribbon and a few bottles of wine was just enough. Keith Wolf guided the tours himself (owner/CD) and then giving away 10 XL T-shirts with MC on it ended the night perfectly.
  • Pixel Farm:: Video-set and ending with sushi. Dan Jacobson taught me at college in a video editing weekend workshop, and his Incubus video and snappy Target clips shown being in college still stick with in my head. The best part about this was Dan lead the group for the event through his process of editing from the footage. It really was a presentation where hands on we got to see with Pixel did, they also had someone in every editing room working so we would walk around or be guided to see more work. Then to top it off Nami Sushi that they wanted to host for us and cover the extra bling for us! $400 what a super event and still am great friends with this group… now if only they had a digital creative department for me.
So many more, I need to count them all, but in all seriousness the Programs and planning will always be close to my heart going to any event and seeing how they welcome you, where the drinks are which appetizers they selected (no wings and stay away from pizza buffets).
your mn design gal
ps. gosh will have to blog again about this topic the 2009 Passport Pub Crawl popped into my head!